Friday, November 26, 2010

Stress and the toll it takes on your health

This is a very hot topic for me..
I strongly believe that stress plays a HUGE role in affecting peoples health.
Stress is like a cancer. If left untreated it can fester and grow exponentially. Not only can it make you miserable, it also affects everyone around you.
I'd like to share my personal story with this old foe.

Shortly after high school I noticed during periods of high stress I would get awful stomach aches. They increased in severity as my fear of these stomach attacks grew. It was a vicious cycle that I continued to live in for years. It was only after I endured countless invasive medical tests that I discovered the main trigger for these attacks was stress. (I also feel that caffeine made these attacks worse for reasons I'll discuss in a later post.)
Once I discovered the culprit to these attacks I worked on trying to relieve my stress in any way I could. The best solution I could come up with was a good old fashioned run. Exercising helped me... a lot.

Fast forward a few years & you'll find me back in the stress boat. Due to college, work, crazy every day life hassles, etc I started to slack on the exercise. I suddenly found myself having panic attacks. For no reason at all I was completely stricken with fear. It happened anywhere & everywhere. The only place I was safe was at home. I thought I was losing my mind. I was mortified to tell anyone except my husband & my best friend. (Note to self... Always treat these two people very well because they have a lot of dirt on you...) Again, I worked through my stress by confiding in my support team (hubby & bff) and getting my butt back on that treadmill.

Jump ahead another year or so and again without warning that ugly stress monster reared its ugly head. This time, I was having OCD symptoms. I was always questioning everything I did. I was afraid to leave the house because I wasn't sure if I locked the door. Or I'd check to make sure I didn't leave the oven on. Or maybe it was possible that I didn't blow out the candle from the night before. It was awful. If I could imagine a terrible scenario then I was sure it was possible. So I'd check & recheck to make sure it never came to be.
Even if it meant driving myself absolutely insane. I don't know how many times I would show up at work & run to my BFF in tears because I was afraid that I didn't unplug the hair dryer or turn off the lights before I left the house. Luckily I have a very strong friend & a very understanding husband who always helped me through my insecurities.

Take one more leap with me on this time travel expedition to a time where again, life happens & stress invades a content mind. On an unexpected visit with my dentist I found out the tooth that was suddenly causing me a lot of pain was cracked. No big deal, I thought. I must have just bit in to something really hard that I don't remember. Not too long after that I realized I was getting headaches and my jaw was sore when I woke in the morning. The next thing I knew I was back in the dentist chair having a different tooth pulled because this one too was cracked & beyond repair. Have you guessed yet what's going on? You got it! I'd been clenching my teeth when I sleep. I don't grind them, I just clench my jaw. The pressure I was putting on my teeth was enormous & I wasn't even awake to know what was going on. My poor mouth! Stress was causing me to break my own teeth! This was it! I'd had enough.

I was determined to take control of the stress in my life & not let it control me.

This is something that I am still working on. I am confident that exercise is an enormous help. I am also confident that this is something I can change. I am trying to research other avenues that I can pursue while maintaining my busy lifestyle.
I believe that it's imperative to have a great support system. Surround yourself with those that love you and most importantly those that are positive influences in your life. You don't need someone feeding you negative energy. It only fuels the stress fire. Who needs that? I know I don't.
It's also great to find an outlet. Find a hobby. You don't have to be good at it. It just has to be something you enjoy. For me, it's writing. I enjoy putting my ideas down on paper. In fact I had a pretty stressful week topped off by a stressful evening & so I decided to sit down & write about it. Now here I am. Thank you to you, my reader, for joining my support team.

As I continue to post, you'll see that I LOVE to talk about stress relievers. I'll list any that I try & I hope that readers will contribute some of their ideas as well. For now, I'll sign off & head in to bed for a much needed night of rest which is yet another topic I'd like to discuss further at a later date. Until then; be well, be loved, be you...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Foods That Heal

Growing up I can always remember my mother would hand me a peppermint when I had a stomach ache. It never struck me as odd until I was with a family member and I had complained of stomach issues and she offered me some awful, pink, chalky liquid. I choked it down and made a mental note not to share my stomach issues with Aunt Tilly ever again.
To this day I always have peppermints handy to help calm an angry tummy. Whether I've over-eaten or something just doesn't agree with me, a peppermint never seems to fail. That is, until I became pregnant & experienced the joys of morning sickness. (Who am I kidding? It was "any time of day" sickness.)
Friends who pitied me offered the usual salt crackers with ginger ale. I must say the ginger ale did help some. Wanting more relief I researched nausea on a lot of the natural boards out there & found a common recommendation for something sour. So, I ran out to the corner store & purchased the first sour thing I could find; a bag of Sour Patch Kids. I can honestly say, I had a bag of these sour little sweeties in my car with me everywhere I went for the next 4-5 months.
Another one of my favorites is cinnamon. Cinnamon is an awesome anti-gas remedy. If I'm making something that's known to be gassy I add some cinnamon and I am sure to avoid a roaring tummy later on. Pancakes are a perfect example of this. I also have a delicious white turkey chili recipe that I adore. It's loaded with beans and onions which are typical gas inducers. Instead of popping an over the counter gas reducer I add cinnamon to the recipe and not only does it add a wonderful flavor and aroma, but it really decreases the amount of gas you experience after wolfing down a bowl.
As I continue to post, I'm going to delve further in to each of these and I also hope to find some new additions for my list as I forge ahead with my research.